The Ultimate Mascara Guide 1.0

This guide will evolve as I continue to try different mascaras and compare them. It will also help you and me keep track of all the different characteristics of a mascara in one place, and of course to single out the best. Mascara is one of the most difficult products to review due to the fact that many people will either love or completely hate a product – I have noticed that it is quite an individual determination on which product is good or bad. Ultimately it is best to try out each option yourself and see which is to your preference, however hopefully this guide will help you better maneuver the options available. To try to achieve the best representation of each product, however, I have included images with different angles, different lighting, varying layers of product, and eye make-up (in all I am wearing a very simple and light layer of eyeshadow). I want to emphasize that I layer a lot due to the fact that I like my lashes dramatic. I did the same in these images to try and maximize the effect they would give and have that show though the images. Honestly, with enough layers, a lot if not all products can get you to a decent length and volume. However the ease with which they layer, the brush, and the formula all play a factor in the quality and whether it’s worth its price. In addition, something I’ve noticed is that a lot of mascaras start performing better after the first few uses – I’ve confirmed this with a few people and no one understands why. Just take that as a small tip to not completely judge a product by your first impression.

*Note: I did not filter images of my eyes or curl my lashes, what you see is the outcome of the products. If you can see fallout and small particles on the lashes, then you can better tell which formulas are drier. I didn’t put flawless images, rather those more realistic.*

Without further adieu, let’s begin.

Fitglow Beauty
Vegan Good Lash + Mascara ($38)

Brush: This product reminds me of the Better Than Sex Mascara by Benefit in that the brush is huge; it’s the biggest I’ve seen yet in green beauty.  But moreover, I don’t think bigger means better. Here are the reasons why I say this:

~Although I love and prefer fluffy brushes for adding volume to my lashes, I’ve discovered that the finer brushes are surprisingly good in this aspect as well. They also hold their shape better over time (think W3ll People, Ilia Beauty) due to their more sturdy nature, whereas fluffy brushes such as this tend to get a little smushed and aren’t as durable.

~Generally, fluffy brushes are also much more comfortable to use, but the size of this brush negates that. I like getting really close to my lash line, and with this brush it just feels like I’m attacking my eye hah! Bottom line is that this brush is simply too big to take full advantage of for achieving volume.

~In addition, although it’s still very possible to use on the lower lashes, such a big brush is still not ideal for reaching the more delicate areas. It is nice that the brush tapers but will allow for better reaching these smaller spaces if it’s on a smaller scale.

Formula: This formula is the driest I’ve encountered thus far. It does NOT play well when I try to layer it on its own or combine with other mascaras. In addition, due to the dry nature of the formula there will be small particles that build up on my lashes, which you can notice from the pictures. With other mascaras it would be possible to better smooth out the product on my lashes to fix these small clumps, but with the overly large size of the Fitglow Beauty brush, I cannot smooth them out. This is one of those mascaras that grow on me and become a bit easier to use after a couple of uses, but still there is much room for improvement.

Overall: For the price, I honestly expected something much better. The large size of the tube doesn’t mean there’s a whole lot more product more than the other options mentioned here – if anything it feels like there isn’t a lot of product in the first place because it’s so dry. While it is a fun aesthetic to have a huge tube/brush, overall I believe it cheapens the look.

With regards to its performance, I do get a very feathery effect from this mascara, which I actually really like – it feels similar to wearing fake eyelashes to achieve this effect. If it was re-formulated to be a bit more ‘wet’ and the brush was fixed, I think this product would be worth re-purchasing. As for the benefits stated for the lashes, I haven’t noticed a difference in my own. That being said, I also assume you need to be continuously using this product to be able to give it a chance. Either way I would much rather purchase the lash serum by Plume which has many good reviews with regards to its lash-lengething benefits, rather than pay $40 for a mascara that alleges some benefits but doesn’t deliver well in performance in either of its make-up or serum aspects.

Ilia Beauty
Limitless Lash Mascara ($28)

Brush: This brush is unique in that it is a dual brush: I use one side as my first step to comb through and separate my lashes, and the other side to build some volume. Is it necessary though? No. I’m always rotating my brush to alternate application on both eyes, so with this duality I have to be more conscious of which side I want to be doing the applying. Since both sides of the dual brush separate my lashes well to begin with, I would actually just prefer a regular, uniform brush. I’m also left desiring for more volume in my lashes, which could be ameliorated with a thicker brush/bristles. In any case, the brush does allow for a very neat and easy application.

Formula: This mascara actually comes off with the least ease of all the options I’ve mentioned, but also for this reason it’s very durable and lasts a longer time. The formula is a bit dry, so I can definitely layer but have to work quicker. It gives you length and volume – but I would definitely prefer more volume. I also experience minimal flaking/smudging.

Overall: This new mascara is definitely one to consider. I love the sleek packaging and how long durable this formula is. The final look one achieves from the product is very clean and neat, similar to Saphho but a slightly more amped up version. In addition, I experience minimal smudging throughout the day.

Lily Lolo
Big Lash Mascara ($22)

Brush: The brush on the Big Lash Mascara is nice and fluffy, but once again too big for proper use of the formula. I actually love the unique shape of the brush, where it gets narrower in the middle and fatter on the sides, as I can push it up much closer to my lash line. If it was on a smaller scale, however, then I could take more advantage of its shape: you can tell that the product is concentrated on the lower portion of my lashes and thins out on top. Since I have to be careful in avoiding a messy application with the wet  formula and brush, I can’t push it into the full length of my lashes with as much ease as I would like. This leads to that tapered off result. For the wet formula I would prefer something more put together along the lines of the W3ll People or Ilia brush to give a nearer performance. Otherwise, the effect is very nice.

Formula: The wetter formula isn’t necessarily a negative because it means you can continue building your layers without worrying about it drying quickly (and I LOVE to layer), however once again due to the brush if you’re not careful you will end up with a messy application. The reason the aspect of a big brush works okay with the Fitglow formula is because its formula is on the drier side. I’m not able to layer as much as I like since I have to be slower and more thoughtful in my application. Once you get used to it and are more careful/slower with your application, however, then you can enjoy its effects more: it adds a nice black pigment and volume.

Overall: I do believe it’s a step up from their original mascara and especially considering its more affordable price, is a good product overall. I believe that if they fix the wand to be more suitable with the formula, then it will be a very, very highly rated product.

Sappho New Paradigm
Vegan Mascara ($34)

Brush: This is one of the most lengthening and defining mascaras you can choose. The delicate wand separates and lengethens insansley well. It’s a more flexible brush than the W3ll People brush, which also means it’s more comfortable to use and you can really press it into your lashes.

Formula: This isn’t the best option for building volume, so opt for this when you don’t want drama. You can also try layering it with a second, more volumizing mascara to achieve your desired look. Another tip is to curl your lashes if you have issues with straight lashes- since it’s lengthens so well but doesn’t add much volume/curl, it may be necessary for you to curl prior to application. Either way, this product does a fantastic job of lengthening and you can definitely take your time layering it.

Overall: This is a very good lengthening mascara with a wand that is very comfortable to use. You get a very, very clean and neat application with this product. I can see many people who prefer a more natural look and length to volume loving this product, albeit it is one of the pricier options. I also want to note that this mascara doesn’t smudge on me, after even hours and hours of wear!

W3ll People
Expressionist Mascara ($22)

Brush: The brush is very easy to work with; it keeps application neat and separates lashes very nicely. I actually think this brush is one of the BEST in that it balances both the capability to provide length AND volume, instead of tipping the scales more to one side. If a brush is too delicate, then we will get a product that lengthens and defines better than provides volume (i.e. Sappho). If a brush is too fluffy and large, then we will get a product that favors volume (i.e. Lily Lolo). The W3ll People brush is able to achieve both beautifully in conjunction with a very good formula.

Formula: This is the most buildable formula of all the options aforementioned, which ultimately makes it very easy for you to obtain either a natural look or an all out drama look. A couple of layers separates but doesn’t give me the more dramatic look I’m after, so I personally prefer to continue layering until I’m satisfied with the volume. I actually love the more dramatic look of clumping my lashes together to give an effect of more volume/false lashes, and due to the fact that the formula is so build-able, I can achieve this end with a lot of ease. With the Fitglow Mascara, the dryness of the formula not only makes it more difficult for me to layer but I end up with small particles clumped on my lashes. I notice this latter issue with Lily Lolo as well. Sappho is another product that layers nicely, whereas with Ilia you have to act a tad more quickly to layer. W3ll People is just perfect in this aspect because I can take my time to layer, I get a very neat application due to the brush, and I can achieve the length and volume I want without trouble. The wetness of the formula is what allows such layering capability, but due to a proper brush, this works out successfully.

One major con from this product is that I definitley do notice smudging after hours of wear, but overall I believe it is still a great product for the price. Try setting your under-eyes with powder and avoiding a really oily/creamy concealer underneath/around the eyes when using this product.

The colored options offered by the line are SO refreshing to see in green beauty. In the images, I wore purple on my right eye and blue on my left. The colors certainly aren’t dramatic – the blue isn’t the bright Dior blue you may be thinking of . However, I LOVE the subtle colors that pop through. I especially love the blue mascara when I’m wearing my cooler-toned pink blushes (Embrace/Reverence from KW). Purple is usually highly recommended with hazel eyes, and although I believe the color does show more, I’m more of a fan of the blue. In addition, I have dark lashes, so if you use a white mascara primer or have lighter eyelashes, then these colors will show even more on you.

Overall: It’s one of those mascaras I will always have on hand, and have continuously repurchased throughout the years. I’m a sucker for their blue mascara, and I appreciate not only the price point but also how beautifully buildable the formula is. Of course it’s not perfect and I do notice the most smudging with this product over the others I have mentioned, but overall I still recommend it. I cannot imagine how perfectly happy and content I would be if W3ll People slightly re-formulates to avoid the smudging issue!